Antonio Vivaldi: La fida ninfa RV 714

Vivaldi Hardbound

Edited by Marco Bizzarini and Alessandro Borin

Two-volume set: score pp. XXIV, 289 / Introduction and critical commentary pp. 94 [Italian and English texts]
PR 1408
Piano vocal score available
CP 140601

[Excerpt from the Introduction]

Vivaldi set to music the libretto of La fida ninfa, a three-act dramma per musica by Scipione Maffei, for the occasion of the inauguration of the new theatre of the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona, which took place on 6 January 1732, during the carnival season, with elaborate sets created by Francesco Bibiena. Prominent among the singers engaged were the two female artists Maria Giovanna Gasperini and Gerolama Madonis, taking the roles of the nymphs Licori and Elpina, and the bass Francesco Venturini in the part of the corsair Oralto. The ballets concluding each act were devised by Andrea Catani, a dancer and choreographer in the service of the king of Poland.

Following the premiere at the Teatro dei Filarmonici in Verona, the opera returned to the stage in Vienna, in 1737, under a different title: Il giorno felice. In this new version, for which no musical sources have survived, Maffei’s libretto underwent a number of revisions. No further revivals during the eighteenth century are known.

In modern times, in comparison with other Vivaldi operas, La fida ninfa had the benefit of an early rediscovery: it was staged during the summer of 1958 at Brussels, Paris and Nancy under the baton of Angelo Ephrikian, and then in June 1962 at the Teatro Piccola Scala of Milan under Nino Sanzogno; on this second occasion the performers used an edition of the music prepared by Raffaello Monterosso, which was published two years later. More recently, the opera has been the object of specific attention from various scholars in respect of its music, its libretto, its scenography and its connections with the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona.

The fact that La fida ninfa, alongside Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade, was among the first operas of Vivaldi to be revived in the twentieth century resulted mainly from the prestige of its librettist, the Veronese letterato Scipione Maffei, an outstanding scholar and philologist of his generation. It was precisely the fame of marchese Maffei, combined with his aristocratic status and occasional activity as an impresario for the theatre, that ensured that Vivaldi adopted an uncharacteristically respectful, not to say deferential, stance in his handling of the text of the drama.

The available information on chronology enables us to claim, as we shall see, that the music for La fida ninfa was composed in a reasonably short space of time. In contrast, Maffei’s libretto had a surprisingly complex origin, just as the opening of the new theatre in Verona was beset by problems and obstacles.

List of Arias

Act I
Oralto, Chi dal cielo o dalla sorte
Morasto, Dolce fiamma del mio petto
Licori, Selve annose, erme foreste
Elpina, Aure lievi che spirate
Licori, Alma oppressa da sorte crudele
Oralto, Cor ritroso che non consente
Morasto, Dimmi, Amore

Act II
Licori, Il mio core, a chi la diede
Elpina, Egli è vano il dirmi ognora
Osmino, Ah, che non posso lasciar d’amare
Narete, Deh ti piega, deh consenti
Licori, Amor mio, la cruda sorte
Oralto, Ami, la donna imbelle
Osmino, Qual serpe tortuosa
Morasto, Destin avaro
Narete, Non tempesta che gli alberi sfronda

Elpina, Cerva che al monte
Oralto, Ben talor meco m’adiro
Licori, Vado, sì, dove a te piace
Morasto, Vanne, ingrata, e per vendetta
Narete e Osmino, Pan ch’ognun venera
Oralto, Perdo ninfa ch’era una dea
Morasto, Dite, oimè! ditelo, al fine
Elpina, Cento donzelle
Morasto, Tra inospiti rupi
Licori, Dalla gioia e dall’amore
Giunone, Da gl’egri mortali
Eolo, Spirti indomabili
Eolo, Non temer, ché splenderà
Giunone, Ma giovar questo non può